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East Coast’s first dental therapist approved for practice at PCHC

Roesler became the first person approved by the state dental board last week.
Claire Roesler is beginning her career as a Dental Therapist at Penobscot Community Health Care...
Claire Roesler is beginning her career as a Dental Therapist at Penobscot Community Health Care on Union Street in Bangor.(WABI)
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 3:57 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The first licensed dental therapist on the East Coast has begun her career in Bangor.

Claire Roesler, RDH, MDT has been licensed by the state to practice at Penobscot Community Health Care on Union Street in Bangor.

“It’s very exciting to be the first and take that unique position on,” said Roesler.

A law allowing dental therapists to practice was passed in Maine in 2014 and amended in 2019.

Roesler joined the team in October 2020. She has been operating on her hygienist license while her dental therapy application was pending.

Roesler became the first person approved by the state dental board last week.

So, what is a dental therapist? They’re advanced practice professionals, similar to nurse practitioners.

“They work on a team with other dental professionals like dental hygienists and dental assistants. They provide routine and preventative care such as fillings,” explained Roesler.

All services that officials at PCHC say are in high demand.

Claire grew up in the rural Midwest, so she says she knows how important it is to have access to care.

Dental therapists have been working around the country for 15 years, but in rural areas like here in Maine, public health experts say the addition of dental therapists is crucial.

Claire Roesler is beginning her career at Penobscot Community Health Care on Union Street in...
Claire Roesler is beginning her career at Penobscot Community Health Care on Union Street in Bangor.(WABI)

“I believe it’s going to provide more access to care,” said Roesler. “You know, more patients able to be seen, less wait time for appointments to be scheduled, and then I get to work with an amazing team of dentists and hygienists to help fill the void or wherever I’m needed.”

Roesler completed her master’s degree in dental therapy at the University of Minnesota.

She says she’s happy to start her career here in Maine. She hopes her role will be monumental in improving dental care to Mainers in need.

“I love helping people feel comfortable in the dental chair and making their dental experience a positive one,” said Roesler.

According to the National Partnership for Dental Therapy, a dental therapy education program at Vermont Tech expects to open its doors to students next year.

The plan is to include distance learning options which might be more suitable for Maine students.

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